The Ad Council, CDC, National Council for Mental Wellbeing and Shatterproof Launch Joint Effort to Inspire Millions Living with or At Risk for Substance Use Disorders to Begin their Recovery Journeys

The Ad Council, in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Council for Mental Wellbeing and Shatterproof, is inspiring millions to “Start With Hope” in a national public service advertisement (PSA) campaign. This vital new effort aims to deliver a message of hope to those living with substance use disorders (SUDs) as well as those at risk of developing a SUD, with a focus on supporting Black and Hispanic/Latinx populations, connecting them with harm reduction strategies and treatment resources to start their journeys to wellbeing and recovery.

According to recent SAMHSA data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 46.3 million people ages 12 and older in the U.S. had SUDs in 2021, representing 16.5% of the population and affecting people of all races, genders, income levels and social classes. Less than 10% of these individuals sought care or treatment for their condition. But the data also shows that recovery is possible: about three-quarters of adults ages 26 or older who ever perceived themselves as having a SUD consider themselves to be in recovery or say they have overcome it.

Sixty-six percent of American adults have a personal or familial experience with a SUD, according to KFF. While SUDs can impact anyone and the rates of substance use in the Black and Hispanic/Latinx communities are similar to the general population, these communities have experienced sharp increases in overdose rates from 2019 to 2020, according to recent data from the CDC – 55% and 21% respectively among those aged 25-44. Due to compounding inequities including stigma, accessibility barriers and racial bias, these communities often have lower access to substance use treatment services. It is critical that individuals can access culturally-responsive harm reduction and treatment options to support their paths toward wellbeing and recovery.

Informed by foundational research from the Ad Council Research Institute and experts at the CDC, National Council for Mental Wellbeing and Shatterproof, the new campaign developed pro bono by Accenture Song, the tech-powered creative group of Accenture (NYSE: ACN), leans on the insight that people with SUDs found immense value in hearing from those who have been through similar experiences. The work also leverages recent studies showing that hope is more than just a human emotion, but also a mindset that can be learned and strengthened with practice. Hope can also serve as a strong predictor of outcomes focused on well-being and quality of life.

Highlighting real stories of individuals who have gone through their own recovery journeys, the new “Start With Hope” campaign features the personal experiences of Ale, Ariel and Joseph, increasing awareness around harm reduction and showing that resources are available for the many paths to recovery. This new campaign emphasizes that recovery is not a one-size-fits-all journey, and highlights that working toward wellbeing often begins with harm reduction strategies like carrying naloxone, using less or engaging in evidence-based treatment options.

“The Ad Council has undertaken a holistic approach to addressing the overdose crisis in the United States, ultimately helping keep our loved ones safe amid a rise in drug-related deaths and substance use disorders,” said Michelle Hillman, chief campaign development officer for the Ad Council. “This critical new campaign uses hope to show people impacted by substance use disorders that recovery is more than possible — it can be a reality when individuals have access to proven harm reduction and treatment resources. We’re grateful for our partners and Ale, Ariel and Joseph for sharing their stories as part of this campaign. Together, we are making a significant impact in the lives of millions across the country.”

“The overdose crisis touches all of our families, neighborhoods and communities, but disproportionately impacts certain populations,” said Grant T. Baldwin, director of CDC’s Division of Overdose Prevention. “Ale, Ariel and Joseph have shared incredible stories of hope, that recovery is possible and looks different for everyone. By sharing their stories, we hope this campaign will light the path to recovery for others.”

“Treatment matters and recovery happens. However, treatment remains elusive for too many people, especially those in marginalized communities,” said Chuck Ingoglia, president and CEO at the National Council for Mental Wellbeing. “The 2021 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that people who received mental health or substance use treatment and care recovered at higher rates than those who didn’t, while people who needed treatment but did not receive it had a lower rate of recovery. So, we must do more to help people get the treatment and care they need, and the ‘Start With Hope’ campaign will achieve that by connecting people to the resources they need. Treatment matters and recovery happens, but it starts with hope.”

“With drug overdose deaths at an all-time high, specifically impacting racial and ethnic minorities, Shatterproof and its partners are positioned to develop and disseminate research-based messaging to support those with substance use disorders, particularly people most impacted by structural inequities,” said Gary Mendell, founder and CEO of Shatterproof. “Together, we will help people with substance use disorders from underserved communities find hope and achieve better healthcare and treatment outcomes for themselves and their loved ones.”

Developed in both English and Spanish, all PSA assets drive audiences to campaign websites and The websites equip audiences to assess personal needs, understand treatment options and harm reduction practices and find culturally-responsive support and treatment options that will work best for them.

“You can see the powerful role hope can play at every stage of a substance use disorder recovery journey. It’s what inspires you to start, it keeps you moving through the ups and downs, and of course, it’s something you take with you as you move toward a brighter life journey,” said Maria Devereux, executive creative director for Accenture Song. “Realizing hope is something we can learn, practice and hugely benefit from in the fight against substance use disorders is the single most important message we want people to take away from this campaign.”

The campaign PSAs will appear nationwide across broadcast, digital, social, out-of-home and print formats in donated media time and space.

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